How Can I Deal With My Elderly Mother Who Refuses Assistance?

What Is the Waiting Period for a Widow?

Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question: Assalam alaykum

We have been told that our mother cannot go out of the house during the waiting period, nor can she be seen by anyone who is not her mahram. How true is this?

Answer: Assalam alaykum,

Jazakum Allah khayr for your question. Our deepest condolences to your family, especially your mother, during this time of bereavement. May Allah lighten your grief and grant you all ease. May Allah also reward you for desiring to find out the proper course of action.

Allah has given us guidance for all occasions. In regards the waiting period, He Most High tells us in the Qur’an (2:234), “If any of you die and leave widows behind, they shall wait concerning themselves four months and ten days.”

For this reason, the schools of law state that the ‘idda period for a widow is four months and ten days, irrespective of whether the marriage was consummated or not, or whether the widow is past child bearing age or not. The exception to this is a widow who is pregnant, in which case the ‘idda period terminates upon the birth of the child.

The widow must stay in her house during this period. The exception is if she has a need to go out and has no one who can fulfill her needs. Needs include, to buy food or other essentials, or to go out to work if she has no one that financially provides for her.

She is also permitted to visit a neighbor who lives very close by in the evenings in order to have female company, on the condition that

1. She stays the normal amount of time she would normally stay at the neighbor’s house
2. She does not stay there for the majority of the night
3. She returns to and sleeps at home

(Fath al-Mu’in, Yaqut al-Nafis)

If the above proves difficult, one may follow the Maliki position, which permits a woman in her waiting period to leave the house during the daytime, even without a need, such as for social reasons and events, whilst returning in the evening. For more specific details on the Maliki opinion, you may refer to this answer here.

I hope this clarifies things insha Allah. May Allah grant your mother’s husband abundant mercy, and bring comfort to your hearts.

Warmest salams,

[Shaykh] Jamir Meah

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.